Last summer we had the chance to speak with Anthony Mackie – at San Diego Comic-Con and on the set of Captain America: The Winter Soldier – about joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Mackie plays Sam Wilson, Captain America’s wingman, so to speak, from the comics and has an important role to play in Captain America 2. The high-flying, wise-cracking Falcon is easily a fan-fave and fits right into the MCU as another character we hope will one day suit up alongside The Avengers.

Like fellow non-powered Avengers Black Widow and Hawkeye, Falcon’s abilities come from simply being highly trained. The rest of it comes from how he operates as special wingsuit. Sorry, no pet bird from the comics. One of the most important characteristics of Sam Wilson however, is his loyalty to cap and his good morals. He’s a hero in every sense of the word.

Following up on our on-set interview with Mackie, Don Kaye had the opportunity to chat with him on behalf on Screen Rant recently. Their discussion on Captain America: The Winter Soldier touched on returning for Captain America 3, waiting in hope for that Avengers: Age of Ultron phone call, and introducing a more realistic and relatable Falcon to the big screen.

Anthony Mackie as Falcon in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

How thrilling is it for you to bring this comic book character to the screen for the first time? No one’s seen the Falcon onscreen before.

It’s great, man. I was really excited because of the history of the Falcon, how much work Marvel has put into the Falcon over the years to get him right – he’s kind of an iconic figure, not only in the African-American community, but in the Marvel Universe as a whole. So when I got the call and was offered the role, it was very exciting. It was kind of like a notch in my belt as far as career achievements.

There have been different permutations of his history and different aspects of his origin, but this one feels really grounded in today.

Right, definitely. What the Russos wanted to do was make a movie that people can look at and relate to. I feel like, if you look at – the reason “The Avengers” did so well, I think, is because people can look at it and see superheroes in present day, as opposed to a dude in a field with a hammer or some rich dude living on a mountain. Captain America is actually every man’s superhero. He has so many traits about him that all of us can relate to, and with what’s going on present day with all the soldiers coming home, they added so many aspects of that – with the PTSD and all that – to this script so that it’s kind of a love letter or an ode to the soldiers coming home, to give everyone a fresh look at what we’re dealing with right now in society.

What kind of training did you do, preparing to get into the harness and the gear? Did you do anything to simulate being in the air?

I did a lot of physical training, a lot of cardio training. They kind of created this new four-point harness where instead of two lines being attached to it, they attach four lines to give us maneuverability and flexibility in the air. And I’ll say it now, and I’ll say it again and again, the hardest working people in entertainment, in the film business, are flying superheroes. I mean, by far, if you’re a superhero that flies, you got it bad, ‘cause it hurts.

So Batman driving around in that car, that’s nothing.

Oh man, every day of the week. I’d take that job every day of the week.

Did you get to take home the wings at the end of the shoot?

I asked and they said no. Marvel’s very mean with their toys, they keep everything to themselves. But if I walk in Kevin Feige’s office and those wings are framed on his wall, I’m taking ‘em.

Have you gotten a call from Joss Whedon about doing the next chapter (Age of Ultron)?

No, but I’ve been stalking him in London and harassing him and sending him emails. I’m ready for it. I mean, I’ve only met Joss twice now and I’ve made it very clear to him that whatever capacity he wants to use the Falcon, I’m there.

But I assume you’re also up for “Cap 3” when they get around to that?

Oh, no doubt. Yeah, definitely. I think “Cap 3,” with the way this movie turned out, and the way it ends, “Cap 3” has the ability to broaden this character even more. So I’m interested to see how the Russos are going to flesh him out and give him more to deal with and make him more grounded in part 3.

Did you talk to any military personnel to get any more context and research for playing Sam and for the job he does?

I did not. I did a lot of research online. I read about the uniform and the tactical group he would have to be in to do something as specific as this, and just, you know, the idea of – watched a lot of videos of soldiers coming back from war and the things they were feeling and saying, and then watched a lot of videos of counselors who had come back from war and who overcame PTSD and were helping other soldiers, ‘cause I felt like that was kind of the spine of Sam and Cap’s relationship.

Dig the live-action design of Falcon? Want to see him return as a key character in Captain America 3 (and beyond)? Share your thoughts in the comments!

More: Marvel Plans Ahead All The Way To 2028

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is produced by Kevin Feige, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, from a screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, and stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp and Hayley Atwell, with Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie and TV news!